Of late I haven’t had much to say, because I have been trying to practice “clear blue mind”.
Imagining my mind as a clear blue sky, I observe the light fluffy thought clouds as they appear, drift and then disperse. I sit “zazen” emptying my mind of all thoughts trying to be untroubled and free from fear and doubt. I breathe in the crystal white light that could provide me with energy to face the day. I imagine all negative thoughts as grey smoke forced out by the light.
I can sit for 20 minutes in this way but I fail to find regularity of practice.
The Dalai Lama tells us in his book, “How to Practise: the Way to a Meaningful Life”, that six times every day he imagines the eight levels of mind one by one. Those levels of mind are: mirage; smoke; fireflies; flame of a candle; vivid white sky-mind; vivid red or orange sky-mind; vivid black sky-mind; clear light. Fuller explanations of these are in his book.
It was easy to imagine “clear blue sky-mind” yesterday as I looked out the plane window above the clouds with the first glare of orange sunlight lighting the horizon. It was also easy to contemplate “death” as the plane came in through fog above the city. I knew the city was there somewhere close below. I trusted the young 20-something pilots could land us using only the instruments to guide them. It was a 20-seater and I was sitting in the very front seat, so I could clearly see the young men and the instrument panel and the white wall of fog.
In Buddhism contemplating “death” is a key teaching. Whilst not dwelling on morbidity, I have always had a keen sense of my own mortality and it gives perspective. If we were to miss the runway, then I had fully appreciated the beauty of life on earth when we were above the clouds.
Reading about how other people, Westerners especially, have come into Buddhist practices is compelling. “Why Buddhism? Westerners in search of wisdom” by Vicki Mackenzie is a collection of interviews with individuals who describe their own experiences with Buddhism. I particularly like the comments about the practicality of Buddhist philosophies and how they can easily be applied to help you get through life’s little dramas. I am encouraged by the repeated observation about the depth of content and how the more people read and learn the more intrigued and interested they are to learn more. I am on the brink.
Needless to say, the pilots landed the plane beautifully. All those hours playing computer games paid off. Thanks boys.